Business travellers to Bangalore have plenty of choices when picking out a souvenir or small gift for friends and family back home. While the city is not known for its shopping, there are several suitable local handicrafts that will impress your loved ones. Most of the shopping area in Bangalore is located along M.G. Road, though there are some specialty shops located in other areas of the city. If you’re not sure where to start, you will staff members in many Bangalore hotels are happy to offer tips on local shopping, but it’s good to know what you’ll be looking for before you begin your quest for the right gifts.
Which of your female friends doesn’t need another silk scarf? That’s a question you should answer by picking up a few of the local handmade scarves, saris or other silk wares on your trip to Bangalore and seeing who doesn’t want one when you get home. Silk and other textiles have been prominent in Karnataka since the rule of Tipu Sultan. The province now produces most of India’s mulberry silk. Explore the M.G. Road shopping centres in Bangalore for cloth shops. Saris here are made from Mysore silk and other fabrics from Karnataka are also available.
You can’t go home without a few things that prove where you were. Bangalore has an assortment of kitsch that is endearingly silly yet practical for travellers who want souvenirs. Bangalore’s main sights are all represented. Consider magnets showing the gardens that gave Bangalore the nickname “Garden City.” Choose a bottle opener or postcard depicting a call centre employee, one of the many technology workers who have helped earn Bangalore another nickname, that of the “Silicon Valley of India.” Local landmarks like the Bangalore Palace and the Glass House will also feature on T-shirts, souvenir plates and other goodies. To seek out souvenirs, the best place is on M.G. Road and the nearby commercial centre.
Most people coming to Bangalore hear about its advancements in industry, education and the booming technological services sector. However, Bangalore’s history extends back over 600 years — so it stands that there will be some quality antiques available for sale, even in this modern city. There is no special district to find antiques. Ask at your hotel what shops staff would recommend.
Fragrant sandalwood makes a great gift from your time in Bangalore. Local artists craft intricate designs for photo frames, idols and other decorations. In addition, essential oils and other products made from sandalwood may be a welcome gift to someone on your list. Sandalwood, despite its connotations of elegance and luxury, is a parasitic tree related to the European mistletoe. It’s been used in soaps, fragrances and incense for thousands of years. Some of the best sandalwood in India is grown and processed in Karnataka. Bangalore vendors sell it in the commercial area near M.G. Road.
Another specialty of the region is wood inlay. Choose from boxes, plates, wall hangings, tables or other furniture that has been inlayed with special patterns. Small inlaid jewel boxes, coasters or incense holders will pack well for your trip home. You can ask also request that the shop ship heavier items to you. Wooden inlay is made by inserting smaller pieces of wood in contrasting colours into a larger frame and then laminating. It’s an intricate process that takes years for artists to master. Choose one of these distinct souvenirs to take home from Bangalore — or perhaps choose one of each. Your friends and family will, no doubt, be delighted. Image by Abi Haley From Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Sasha Khan is a blogger and part-time travel agent living in New Delhi. Her first trip to Bangalore was several years ago, and she’s been back several times since then. Her favourite souvenir? A wooden-inlayed jewellery box.